What is Beauty?


In our country, we live in a society where appearance matters. But is this focus on appearance harmful to people, does it force many of us to go to overly excessive means to reach the desired amount of beauty? Now don’t get me wrong, in certain environments, appearance does matter. In the workplace, for example, you do need to wear sensible clothing, in regards to your job. You cannot have a teacher wearing a fancy dress costume (I suppose you could though, that would be cool). What I am referring to is physical appearance, make up, weight, etc.

I was inspired to write this post because of something I have seen on Facebook, where the actress Vanessa Hudkens has been pictured by a member of the Paparazzi, wearing minimal make up and; what appear to be, clothes thrown on by someone on their day off in the early morning. The link is here:


Now, I don’t read the Daily Mail, but I did read this article. Why? Because it shows to me how messed up our mass media can be. And a lot of the problems we have in Body image and physical appearance involves what the mass media does. In this case, it shows an actress being criminalised for not looking ‘Beautiful’. It is really like they expect her to wear long dresses, her hair done by stylists and make up slapped on by professional make up artists.

It is this sort of thing which is having a negative impact on today’s youth (ie, my peers and my friends). Some statistics that I ave read in preparation for this post are pretty shocking:

  • Nearly a quarter of girls age 15-17 (24.7%) would consider undergoing plastic surgery.
  • About a quarter of girls (25.4%) compare their bodies to people on TV and over one third (35.2%) would like to look like the models who appear in magazines.
  • Over a third of men (36.8%) and over half of women (50.4%) report that they compare
    their bodies to people on TV.
  • Almost half of men (42.4% of men) and 30% of women said they would like their bodies
    to look like the models who appear in magazines.
  • Almost half of adults (48.9%) said they wanted to see different body shapes and sizes, varieties
    of ages, ethnicities and a wider range of physical appearances in the media, advertising and
    fashion industries and on TV. SOURCE: YMCA

Those facts; with the exception of the last one (which I will go into later), are very worrying and concerning for myself and for other people as well. It get’s even worse though, People are actually accepting of the way things are, and make videos like this:

I first watched this video because it was one a You-Tuber I like analysed and made a reply to which was very good. But this video here is absolutely shocking. Now, I bet some of you will say that ‘they’re only saying what they like about girls’. What they’re saying is not healthy. It is unhealthy for young men to see girls in that way. To view them as Sex Objects. The same goes for Women looking at men.

The fact of the matter is that the media paints an image of how to look and how to act, dress, and behave, and the people strive to follow those guidelines. When a girl sees a popstar with curves, you see a rush of girls trying to get curves. If a model loses weight, girls lose weight, because they see it as good. If they see an actress with a certain Make-Up Brand or endorsing it, these girls will buy that make up. As for boys, we follow the guidelines of stay fit, buy these fragrances, buy these brands, like these things, like that quality in the opposite sex. It is dangerous and it shows the grip that capitalism has on us, that one product or picture can cause so much damage to us.

It is not uncommon for people to DIE at the expense of trying to conform to society. These people die and we leave our condolences and we continue our life, and the exploitation of an impressionable population at the hands of the mass media and capitalism continues.

As I previously mentioned in the statistics, ‘Almost half of adults (48.9%) said they wanted to see different body shapes and sizes, varieties of ages, ethnicities and a wider range of physical appearances in the media, advertising and
fashion industries and on TV’. I think that this would be a move in the right direction to help combat this image problem, but the problem would still be there. There will still be an image for a boy or girl to attempt to conform to, the only exception is that there will be more than one image.

So, going on to the last part of my post. What do I believe is beauty. I don’t really think I can be the one to say how a girl looks. By setting a standard, I am as hypocritical, as that is what is wrong, setting standards. I do not conform to the standards set by society, well I try not to. I realise that wearing the ‘right’ clothes, of living the ‘right’ lifestyle, or even following the ‘right’ trends will make me a more attractive male to females. I think, if I was to give advice, I would stop following the standards. I don’t want you to be a carbon copy, I don’t want to be a carbon copy of the mass media’s perfected image of pain and suffering. I want you to be you.


About the author


Since 2012, Benjamin Attwood has written for the If you Ask Ben blog.

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